Campus Celebrity: Olivia Dufour

Meet Olivia Dufour, this week’s lovely Campus Celebrity! Olivia, a Government major, is a bright and inspiring member of the class of 2016.  Learn about her amazing adventures this previous summer, her passion for female empowerment, and why she was an MTV Video Music Awards Red Carpet Correspondent!

Word on the street is that you had a special trip this summer to somewhere rather unique! Tell us more?
This summer I traveled to Reykjavik, Iceland to explore and photograph the country’s stunning landscape and to learn about their unique culture. I swam in geothermal hot springs, saw Puffins, and took 1,100 photos of the national parks, downtown Reykjavik nightlife, and of their incredible city monuments.

Wow, that sounds fantastic.  What would you say was the most rewarding aspect about visiting Iceland?
I live to be spontaneous and travel to new and exciting places, especially those where I am exposed to new languages and can meet new people. Icelandic society does not revolve around interaction with technology, but thrives on daily social engagement. I randomly met someone in a restaurant that changed my outlook on life, and for that alone I am grateful. I had the ability to be surrounded by the most dramatic scenery and rare wildlife, which is a dream come true for a photographer.

Speaking about doing things that are truly rewarding, you do so much with the female empowerment movement – what have been your most significant projects thus far?
When I was 15, I began my first nonprofit organization to combat global human trafficking. Within months of meeting CNN Hero and survivor Somaly Mam, my life began to follow a new trajectory. I then started a positive social media network “Rise and Shine!” to empower humanity and to educate our youth on the connection between self-esteem and success, healthy relationships, and overall happiness. I am now the founder of the New London/Connecticut College Hollaback! Chapter, to raise awareness against street harassment on a global scale. Female empowerment is one essential part of strengthening and educating our world, but I also have set up empowerment workshops for young men to learn to respect women and themselves from a young age. My mentorship of young men has shown me how receptive they are to my message. It is necessary that boys are given positive role models.

That is all so impressive! Do you have any motivational words of wisdom to impart on our readers about reaching our greatest potential?
Love yourself before you love someone else. The sooner that we become comfortable in our own skin, the better and healthier choices we will make in our lives. We have the ability and the voices to challenge societal norms and to strengthen one another.

Spoken like a true leader.  Now, we’re all curious – why were you selected to attend this year’s MTV Video Music Awards?
I won the 2013 MTV VMA Microsoft Project for photography. I reinterpreted the controversial song “Blurred Lines” through the lens of a young woman who is surrounded by the often sexist media and music industry, which fails to use their power for positive change. I was featured on a live episode of MTV’s Random Acts. My photo series was on display at the Williamsburg Music Hall in Brooklyn on August 21st at the Jason Derulo and Time Flies concert.

Congratulations, what an accomplishment! So tell us – what was the award ceremony like?
It was an incredible opportunity to photograph celebrities, talk with them candidly, and to embrace a night of amazing music. As a human rights activist, it was monumental to watch Macklemore perform “Same Love” firsthand. The ambiance in the Barclay Center was unbelievable. I will never forget the honor that I was given to walk the Red Carpet and to take part in such a special event.

How incredible! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and inspirational advice with us! Good luck with all of your future ambitions; we know you’ll do great things. 

Brooke loves being a bookworm and listening to bands you've probably never heard of. *smirks* She is an English major with a concentration in creative writing who aspires to either work at a fashion magazine or become a college professor for creative writing/English. Cake decorating and baking in general are her favorite things in life besides her pug dog who is her main man. One day she'll marry Holden Caulfield, and they will live happily ever after!!!!! Oh, fun fact: She has her real estate license so if you need to buy a house or apartment, she's your woman. xx

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